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PWC: Parente (GT), Aschenbach (GTS) win Saturday at Mid-Ohio

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Two past Pirelli World Challenge champions won the first races of the weekend for the series’ second-to-last Sprint weekend of 2017 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, in Alvaro Parente (GT) and Lawson Aschenbach (GTS).

GT

In a dominant flag-to-flag drive from pole, Alvaro Parente won his third GT race of the season as he continues his title defense. Driving the No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S GT3, Parente was never headed over the course of the 50-minute race.

With a late-race restart coming after Pablo Perez Companc beached his No. 69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Turn 10, Parente just had to hold off the pair of Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.Rs, Michael Cooper and Johnny O’Connell in the Nos. 8 and 3 cars.

Bryan Sellers was fourth in the second K-PAX McLaren with Patrick Long scoring a top-five for Batavia, Ohio-based Wright Motorsports, in that team’s No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Kyle Marcelli was sixth in both his and the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 team’s return to the championship.

Top-finishing GTA driver was James Sofronas in his No. 14 GMG Porsche, thus giving GMG its second win on the day after George Kurtz won GTS Am earlier in the day (below).

GTS

Lexington, OH – Jul 29, 2017: The Pirelli World Challenge racers take to the track on Pirelli tires during the Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course presented by Honda Racing/HPD at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH.

Lawson Aschenbach finally got on the board in Pirelli World Challenge GTS competition in 2017, giving the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R its first win in the series. It has won two races in a row in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ranks with Stevenson Motorsports, a team Aschenbach competes for there, but drives an Audi R8 LMS in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Aschenbach, a several-time PWC champion including back-to-back in GTS in 2014 and 2015 with Blackdog Speed Shop, became the sixth driver with the sixth different manufacturer to win this year in class. Chevrolet follows Ford, KTM, SIN, Porsche and Panoz, which had swept both races on each of the five weekends thus far.

This race was crash-strewn with several cars going out and much of the race run under yellow flag conditions. Alas, in the green flag period, Aschenbach got around polesitter Harry Gottsacker in his Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 off the start and never looked back. Ian James recovered from sixth on the grid to come to second in his Panoz Avezzano GT, with Gottsacker third and GTS Am class winner George Kurtz fourth in a GMG McLaren 570S GT4.

The win is the 23rd in his PWC career, which has seen him win titles in GT, GTS and TC.

2016 Knoxville Nationals champ Jason Johnson succumbs to injuries from sprint car crash

Photo courtesy Jason Johnson Racing official Facebook page
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Former Knoxville Nationals champion sprint car driver Jason Johnson has died from injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night in a World of Outlaws race at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway).

Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his aggressive style of racing, Johnson, 41, passed away this morning, according to an announcement by WoO. He was one of the most respected and well-liked drivers on the circuit by both fellow competitors and fans.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson, a Eunice, Louisiana resident, was racing for the lead in the main event on the one-third-mile clay track with eventual race winner Daryn Pitman, when Johnson crashed on Lap 18 shortly after a restart.

Johnson’s car left the track surface in Turn 3 and flew through at least one billboard adjacent to the racetrack, according to media and witness reports.

It took rescue workers several minutes to extricate Johnson, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital before being airlifted to Aurora Summit Hospital in Summit, Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel report.

How many will remember Johnson:

Johnson, who won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals – the sport’s biggest race – in Iowa in storybook fashion, had been a primarily part-time racer on various sprint car circuits from 1998 until he went full-time on the Outlaws series, capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

MORE: Knoxville win should be big boost to Jason Johnson’s season, career

Johnson had 12 wins on the Outlaws circuit, including two victories this season.

The Journal Sentinel also posted a statement from SLS Promotions, which promoted Saturday’s race:

“Everyone at SLS Promotions offers our deepest, most sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to Bobbi Johnson (Jason’s wife), Jaxx Johnson (the couple’s son) and the entire Johnson family and JJR Racing team.

“Jason was a great competitor and true ambassador for the sport. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him during his time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail. Jason will never be forgotten”

Other notables also commented on his death on social media:

According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is the second driver in four years to die at the small track northwest of Milwaukee. In September 2014, Scott Semmelann, 47, was killed there while practicing for an Interstate Racing Association event.

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